Exploring Qigong – What Is A Dantian?

or copy the link


Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is full of terms and concepts that are relatively new to those of us growing up in a western civilisation. Qigong, meridian,  yin yang, and chi have all been covered in earlier articles. Now it’s time to take a look at the concept of dantians.

What Is A Dantian?

Is it the same as a chakra? How many dantians are there? Is one more important than the others?

Read on to find out.

Qigong lady on beach | Qigong stores energy in all three dantiansDantian Definition

The word, dantian, (pronounced dahn-tee-ahn) is a transliteration of the Chinese word for the three special energy centres in the body, where chi (qi) is stored. It can also be written as dantien, dan tian, dan tien, or tan t’ien. It is a Taoist concept, often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, meditation, martial arts, qigong  and tai chi.

Dan tien literally means red field, which doesn’t tell you much about what it is.

Dan means red or cinnabar (a bright red-orange colour), and tien or tian means a paddy field or a field containing “treasures” to be mined. In other words, the tien field is a source of nourishment or energy.

This is why the  loose translations of: “sea of chi”, “elixir field” or energy centre, make more sense to most people.

I call them chi-batteries, simply because they store your vital life force, and they can be depleted and “recharged” like batteries can.

TCM teaches that your power or chi is stored in your body in three main energy centres, referred to as your upper, middle and lower dantians.

Are They The Same As Chakras?

Probably not. Dantians are similar to the Indian Yoga concept of chakras, but there is one important difference. Unlike dantians, chakras do NOT STORE energy, but rather act as a gateway or vortex, for energy to flow in and out of the body.

Qigong And Dantians

One of the main aims of qigong is to increase the capacity of your chi-batteries to store your vital life force. Having fully charged dantian batteries means that you always have power to get you through the stressful times and to assist your self healing.

The Three Dantians

1. Your Lower Dantian

The lower dan tien (Xia Dantian or Shen Guan) is considered to be the major powerhouse, or battery, for storing chi. It has been described as the “golden stove”. It is situated in your lower belly, two-fingers-width behind the navel and three-fingers-width below it.

The lower dantian is the prime focal point for qigong exercise and meditation  practice; and the seat of power, vital essence and sexual energy.

Your lower dan tian is similar to your sacral or pelvic chakra.

2. Your Middle Dantian

The middle dan tien (Zhong Dantian or Tan Zhong) is behind your breast bone, at the level of your heart.

It is associated with love, kindness and compassion; and with the health of your internal organs, especially the heart, lungs and the thymus gland.

Your middle dan tian is similar to your heart chakra.

3. Your Upper Dantian

The upper dan tien (Shang Dantian or Yin Tang) is above the bridge of your nose, behind your  forehead, in the region referred to as your third eye.

It is associated with your pineal gland, intuition, higher consciousness, and the spiritual aspect of qigong, such as connecting to the emptiness, or unlimited field of chi around you.

Your upper dan tian is similar to your third eye chakra.

Is One Dantian More Important Than The Others?

Dantian power meditation | balancing the chiIt is commonly taught with qigong that energy should be stored mostly in the lower dantian. Some masters say there is a risk involved with trying to pack chi into the middle and upper dantians.

I wonder if this is largely because of the idea that the lower dan tien is the seat of power and sexual energy. It is therefore of prime importance regarding physical survival of an individual, and mankind as a species. Keeping this “battery” topped up would therefore be strongly advised.

Maybe it has to do with the fear of overloading the circuits, if too much energy is funneled into the upper or middle dan tian. This is probably an individual concern more than a general one. Some people are naturally open-hearted, and open-minded.

Admittedly, history teaches us that it’s dangerous to live from your heart and soul perspective, but this is changing. People are moving beyond pure survival, and logic, into the energy of their hearts. You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t have a desire to expand your own heart and spirit.

Personally, I don’t agree with the limitation of only energising the lower dan tian. It is my intention to balance body, heart and spirit, and to give an equal dose of vital life force to all areas of my being. I’ve never had any negative results from directing energy to all three of my dantians during my daily qigong practice.

I am not a qigong master, but as a reiki practitioner and light-body worker, I’ve worked with energy for much of my adult life. This is possibly why the practice of energising all three dantians,  is safe for me.  However, you will need to decide what is right for you.


According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, you have three important storage areas for your vital life force, that you can call on for self healing and for general well-being. They are called your Upper, Middle and Lower Dantians.

You may like to visualise a dantian as a sea of chi, an elixir field, an energy centre, or a chi-battery. Whatever concept you prefer for the dan tien, it is good to know that you can do simple qigong exercises to increase your ability to store chi.

Hopefully this article has answered the question for you of, “what is a dantian?”, and you now have a clearer idea of why they are an important focus for qigong practice.

The next article in my Exploring Qigong series takes a peak at what goes on “behind the scenes” with qi building exercises.

GO HERE TO CHECK IT OUT. Using these seven principles will give your qigong practice a boost!

Or if you’re in a hurry to get started, check out these recommended qigong dvds

Thanks for visiting. Come back soon.

or copy the link